How committed are you in Second Life?

I was struggling with a topic for this Wednesday’s Basilique Chat Salon – not from a lack of ideas – I’ve got a queue of them. Rather, none of them was working for me. I just couldn’t commit. I was *this* close to saying “Oh, sod it, if it’s not working for you, then just don’t do it!” And then, like a life saver, I received this message from Marie Forleo:

You said yes to a major project with your full heart. You felt good. Excited. Ready to dive in. This is something you believe in, and the other folks involved are thrilled to have you on board.

A bit of time goes by and your life takes a turn.

It’s all good, but things are different now. Less time, less bandwidth. The truth is you stress even thinking about this project and what it will take to pull it off.

But, you already said yes. You gave your word. People are counting on you (lots of them) and you pride yourself on being someone who honors commitments, no matter what.

Enter a stormy, emotional mix of guilt, inadequacy, panic, and fear. There’s the fear of looking weak, the fear of disappointing others, and the fear of damaging your reputation. Do you suck it up and try harder, or, do you call it quits?


Yes Marie! Well spotted! How did you know??? Seriously, her timing can be impeccable. It’s true, sometimes she can smell what the Rock is cooking…

I tend to be reasonably decisive. It’s a trait I like about myself. However, I’m having trouble deciding on pretty much anything right now. Mainly because I’m preoccupied with another, significant commitment, which I’m trying to sort out, and am hating the prospect of doing so because every outcome I can imagine is as attractive as bubblegum pink lipstick on… well, anyone. The problem is… I also greatly value reliability, in others, and even more so in myself.

So yes, Marie – B.I.N.G.O.! And thank you, for a great idea for our next Basilique Chat Salon:

How do you treat commitments in Second Life? Is your handshake worth a flakey pastry? Or is your word your ironclad bond?

In a world with few repercussions, all too short memories, and hardly noticeable reputations, what is the nature of commitments in Second Life? Why do so many of them crumble? How do great things that rely on big commitments even happen? How do commitments in Second Life compare with commitments in real life? Do they differ, or is the way we do anything the way we do everything? Should we expect people to honour their commitments in here at all? Or, when real life can rip apart our best laid plans in an instant, are we just expecting too much?

Join me this Wednesday, May 21st at 1PM for what I hope will be another illuminating and thought-provoking conversation at the Basilique Chat Salon. As always, if you can’t attend, inundate me with your opinions on this topic below.

Feature Photo Credit: Prairie Kawashima – check out more of her amazing work on her Flickr

16 thoughts on “How committed are you in Second Life?

  1. I can’t ever make these due to the time, but BINGO! that is an ongoing friction in my RL/SL someone in my RL constantly says, “who cares if you don’t make it to activity ABC in SL today? It’s all imaginary anyway” I find this statement sadly so appalling, because you know what? I CARE! I made a commitment to be there, it’s my integrity that’s on the line, not yours… (yours as in the person who made the comment not you Beck) Makes me soooOOooooo angry! which is pretty remarkable because I am such a low gravity easy-going person. Anyway! Great topic as usual! ❤


    1. I agree with you. I can appreciate that people without virtual world experience might not “get it”, and that is ok with me, they don’t have to. The problem arises when those same people make throwaway statements as if they can judge what is imaginary and what isn’t.


  2. There’s an interesting push-pull with regard to SL & RL, in terms of priorities. I think people who discount SL is “imaginary” simply because it’s “not RL” aren’t giving any credence to the feelings that arise when the bottom falls out of things in SL. They think “well, it’s not real, so anything I feel in there isn’t real, either.” I think that line of reasoning is flawed in the extreme — anywhere people interact with each other, relationships form, and feelings arise. Those relationships & those feelings need to be respected with consistent levels of compassion & integrity. So, no, I don’t think the way we treat each other in SL should be somehow merit less attention than RL. Should we expect people to honor their commitments in SL: Yes! As in RL, SL commitments require time & presence — things which I would argue are just as precious in SL as they might be in RL (perhaps more so). Because of that, SL things carry the same sort of opportunity costs that RL ones do. Meaning, if I make arrangements to meet up with someone in SL & they don’t show (and never explain or acknowledge their flake-out), I’m rather put out because I passed up on doing a ton of other things I enjoy in order to keep the commitment (e.g., I could have been hiking in RL instead or I could have been practicing my SL photography, etc.) All that said, I know well how negatively RL can affect one’s SL, making it appear to one person that their world is indeed ending and to another that folks can’t be trusted to come through, ever. I think there’s a balance to be struck between granting others grace when RL happens and keeping our critical eyes open — that balance is different for everyone, but I don’t think it’s too much to expect, in general, that SL relationships be held with similar regard that would be appropriate were the relationship in RL instead.


    1. Yes, discounting one’s commitments in a virtual world is like saying promises made on the telephone are less binding than those made in person: “Oh you wanted to meet at 9am for breakfast? Oh silly you! That was a promise I made on the phone! So, of course, I didn’t mean it!” Wot? Since when does the medium change the nature of the commitment?

      I also appreciate your comment relating to the balance that needs to be struck between granting each other grace when RL happens. I suppose in part it depends a lot on the nature of the commitment, how soon you communicate you want to get out of it, and how often it happens. As in real life, patterns emerge, and it’s up to each of us to respond accordingly by aligning our expectations.


    2. I don’t think the idea that SL being only imaginary is flawed “to the extreme”. There is a very strong component of that idea of unreality in a virtual world. Yes the feelings are real I totally agree but sometimes based on something that is unreal, or even false sometimes!! I am speaking from my own experience and perceptions of course. I know for some the virtual world seems far more satisfying than their “first” life and I understand that too. However, in SL so many are not who they say they are or even close especially. in role play world. It’s much easier to deceive in the virtual experience. I’m not upset about it. It’s all part of a journey and I’m not going to defend SL or renounce SL. I have my own priorities and dreams which sometimes lead me to change direction.


  3. I am so glad you hit this topic Becky! I have dealt with this same topic recently but on a switch. Someone who committed to me just up and dropped their portion of the commitment and I was stuck with the weight all on my own. That is probably a loaded story, but the fact of the matter is, I wouldn’t want the story to be the other way around and think that I committed to someone or something and have them turn around disappointed or upset that I didn’t keep my word. My word means everything to me… those who are close to me know that! Frustrates me that everyone doesn’t feel that way. Yes RL does come first, but there comes a time when your word means nothing if your always side stepping your SL commitments with the excuse that RL “came up”. Really enjoyed this read. 🙂


    1. Thanks for your comment Tessa. What I’ve learned from this conversation about commitments, is that everyone that wants to talk about it values commitment in SL as much as they might in RL, given all the difficulties, given all the inherent pitfalls in a virtual world, we still think it’s a good thing, and are distressed when others don’t feel the same way. So where are all these flakey people?? Did they just not want to be part of the convo, or they are our flakey sides when the mood in which we made our commitments has long since changed?


  4. This issue of Second Life commitments was at the heart of my struggle when I left SL last year. It’s an insidious thing the way SL can go from being a joy to a dread, and inner turmoil arises when imbalances reach that level.

    It is surprisingly easy to take on more than you can manage when you are juggling RL & SL. You may be great at managing your time, but sometimes subtle changes in real life can tip the balance. And big changes in your real life require serious adjustments in your virtual life. You see many people just flee SL when their lives become too imbalanced. That’s mostly what happened in my situation.

    I’m glad you brought the topic up. I’ll be interested to see your follow-up.


    1. Yes, sometimes the repercussions of changes in our RL can have strangely out-of-proportion effects on our SL. What I mean by that is that it actually doesn’t take much of a change in RL, to have an impact on our SL that, to external eyes at least, seems so dramatic, that it hardly makes sense. Of course, onlookers are not in our shoes, they can’t possibly imagine what is going on in our heads in both worlds, and what indeed can be the RL straw that breaks the SL camel’s back.

      I’ll do my best to get the follow-up out asap before I announce the next one.. but… you know, commitments….


  5. Yes, I guess it depends. Short of calling myself an addict(!) I tend to become extremely hyper focused and lose all sense of time in projects!! and yes I fled SL. And I get it!! SL is an extension of experience that I too found so compelling. However, given that time flies I would much rather invest “feelings” and commitments in real life these days. Not to say I don’t appreciate SL’s many facets.
    I am tentatively putting a foot back into SL and uploading some rl photos to an art show there with a friend. However, these days I choose RL events over SL events. As you say Life did happen and took me by surprise ( good and bad) so I took a new direction creatively along with a chance to travel etc. I will not commit myself in the true sense of the word in SL now but I still enjoy the artistry of the place!!


    1. *me nods knowingly* Yes, SL is just one of those things that many of us have so much difficulty doing on the side. We so quickly become bound by the beauty, by the possibility, by the hope that we can feel the way we most want to feel in this virtual world. Stepping back in, toe by toe, you’re feeling that, and it can be like walking a tightrope.


      1. exactly Becky- that whole unlimited possibilities hype!! lol. Who knows where this brave new world of technology is taking us. Sometimes the bigger picture can look a bit frightening too!!
        It’s a great post,- provocative and a perfect topic for discussion.
        I admit two lives were a lot to handle. I loved SL for awhile – but – the drama and time factor got to me!!
        It was after I got to fulfill a real life dream that my direction changed drastically and for me in a wonderful way. I allowed life to take another direction (fate or the universe speaks, I listen). I still have a sense of wonder but I realize it in a slightly different venue. I still like the art and imagination of all venues and I have a writer friend who is inspired by virtual landscapes etc. It would be fun to see your virtual theater!!


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